That a few of us manage to kill a few others of us in a country with over 300 million people, most of us shoppers, should not surprise us. What surprises me is that these deaths will get more play than the death of Master Sgt. Anthony Davis who was killed in Iraq this week during a humanitarian operation, or Captain Warren A. Frank who was killed in a military operation the same week the Iraqi government made it clear we are not wanted.
Once or twice a week, I gently remind my students just before the pledge that soldiers are dying "over there."
I do not require that my students recite the Pledge of Allegiance--doing so is unconstitutional and counterproductive. Pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth manufactured in Asia has all kinds of implications I'd rather not discuss with rational adults, never mind bouncy human larvae, so I simply recite the pledge (occasionally substituting the word "atomos" for "indivisible"), and ask that the kids be respectful during this time given that our soldiers are dying overseas.
On Monday I will (again, Lord, again) ask the class to be respectful, that we lost more soldiers, but I do wonder what makes a bigger impression on the world--Master Sgt. Anthony Davis being shot to death by an Iraqi Security Force soldier, or Americans trampling a temporary Walmart employee to bolster our economy.
What does this have to do with teaching?
It's my job to to oversee about twenty kids when the Pledge is recited over the intercom. This happens just about every day (except, ironically, when we are administering the state exams).
The Pledge of Allegiance was written by a Christian socialist, and used to require an arm salute that would have made Hitler proud. The words "under God" were added in the 1950's after a vigorous campaign by the Knights of Columbus.
While a lot of folks have a problem with the God part, my difficulty stems more from the word "under"--if we are going to insist in school that God exists (and I'm not arguing the contrary), it pushes the empirical envelope to place Him (Her? It?) over us when I'm just as likely to find God on a microscope slide as I am in a cloud.
I worry (reasonably, I think) about discussing how artificial selection has made Tom Turkey impotent. The courts have ruled (reasonably, I think) that I cannot require students to recite the pledge. The courts, however, have also ruled that a school district can require me to lead the pledge to the same children not required to recite it.
Who said idolatry was dead in science class?